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El Nino Likely Culprit for Thousands of Dead Alaska Seabirds

Cara J

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Warm weather and water conditions caused by el Nino may be the reason thousands of seabirds are washing up dead on Alaska shores or flying inland far from their traditional feeding grounds. It all started when a woman walking her dog discovered several birds washed up on shore in Seward in Alaska’s Resurrection Bay in March of last year and contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “One bird is one thing, but once you start seeing two or three, that gives you precedence to go out and collect some data,” said Robb Kaler, a seabird biologist with USFWS’ Migratory Bird Management unit based in Anchorage. Necropsies showed that the common murres (Uria aalge) had died of starvation and had no traces of disease or chemicals that could have led to poisoning. The strandings, and dead birds washing onshore continued until reaching a peak over New Year’s, when Kaler said their phones were ringing off the hooks with calls. Birds have turned up from the Aleutian Islands all the way to Sitka in the southeast corner of the state. A breeding site in the Gulf of Alaska also saw the complete abandonment by the murres in July and August. “Nearly [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/el-nino-likely-culprit-for-thousands-of-dead-alaska-seabirds/

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